Making new from hand me downs……

dodgy cover but well worth a read


A couple of weeks ago I mentioned buying this brilliant book from a little pop up charity stall in Norwich….to begin with I was only tempted to look through it because of the hilarious front cover, but actually on browsing through the pages I realised it was actually a proper little gem so for pence have given it a new home……

The pictures inside are in black and white so I’m sure don’t do the magnificence of the clothes made the full justice but let’s just say time hasn’t been kind…this was written in 1980 so we are talking late seventies fashions here….(the little boy wearing a pair of jeans made from an adults denim cast offs is a delight and I’d love to know what colour his tank top is) but the basics are really excellent…….there are a few things that I don’t think any child would wear today (do little girl still wear long party frocks..being a child of the seventies I had a “beautiful” purple one, it had a velvety bodice and long sleeves which puffed at the wrists, and remember wearing it to a party with silver sandals…move over Kate Jackson, I felt like a Charlie’s Angel!)….but there are some nice little dress patterns in there and plenty of information about repurposing your old clothes…..

The introduction is really funny as it goes on about how buying clothing for constantly growing children can eat up a big proportion of the household budget but by making their clothes you’ll have money left over to buy them shoes….or even to buy something new for yourself.  (that made me laugh out loud as I just imagined all these poor little mites running around in some proper odd outfits but mum sashaying around in something that Margo from The Good Life would wear…)


inside children's clothing book


Each outfit gets its own easy to draft pattern and the instructions are nice and simple, there are some lovely clear illustrations to follow and there’s a section at the front explaining sizes and how to take a child’s measurements….if you aren’t used to making clothes then this is such a nice book as most of the outfits are written for beginners to make (and if you are using something old or from a charity shop or jumble sale then it won’t be the end of the world if it goes wrong…)

It’s probably more suitable as a pattern book for girl’s clothing as there are a fair few dresses in the book, but not so much for boys.   Aside from the afore mentioned jeans for boys (the pattern is okay but I’m not sure how tight little boys wear their jeans or trousers nowadays) there’s a pyjama pattern and a top for wearing on the beach which is unisex and the dearest little pair of bib fronted shorts… I’ve mentioned on here before, we don’t have any children (we just have Bernard who in our eyes is our little baby) so I don’t know if children today would wear clothes like this or whether they’d put their parts on and have a strop…..maybe little ones would wear them…I keep thinking of the bib fronted shorts, they are just the cutest….but if you made the clothes small enough you’d certainly be able to make clothing for favourite toys or dolls.


patterns are easy to follow


The last section of the book  deals with general instructions, and each method and technique is easily explained and has more of those lovely clear instructions to show you what to do…..techniques covered included adding seams to a pattern, using a garment’s existing seams, how to make bias binding, how to sew French seams, gathering, making buttonholes, setting in sleeves, setting in a zip and there are also various ways shown for finishing a hem…..

As far as I’m concerned this really is a proper little gem, reading through it I’ve thought about our two little nieces and am thinking perhaps I need to make them new frocks……actually I made one (miss Maggie) some little dresses a couple of years ago from an Ikea duvet cover (a pound from a jumble sale which was one of the best bargains of all time).  She wore one to her Nursery and a classroom helper misheard Maggie’s mum when she said “it’s from an Ikea duvet”…another mum saw the dress and the classroom helper said “oh, it’s from Ikea”.  The other mum went to Ikea and asked where their children’s clothing was….much confusion ensued….. anyway I made her two little dresses with a ruffled trim on the bottom in different variations of the fabric and even though they were from an old jumble sale duvet cover she wore them loads and loads and they are now possibly being worn by younger sister Eliza.

I’ve had a look on a couple of on-line book shops and this book is available but I think it’s also worth asking at your local library…it’s from 1980 so may still be in the system, but it never hurts to have a look on charity shop book shelves…

Once the quilts are all made then I’ll make at least something from it to show as the advice given in it is really good.  (I guess the only downside is that a lot, maybe most, of the clothing manufactured today won’t wear half so well as clothing made pre- 1980, so the fabric may not be so quite so forgiving, certainly lightweight jersey and t-shirt fabric bobbles like the devil…..but you could always just use and adapt the patterns and make the clothing out of new fabric).


v and a fabric and a selection of vintage needles


I also bought a lovely little haul of vintage needles (a pound the lot….the needle packets weren’t “new” or full, but the needles in there were all nice and sharp and rust free……and the fabric was from Norfolk Yarn on Pottergate (next to Head in the Clouds) in Norwich…it’s from the V and A collection by Rowan and I bought some last year in a pinky red and just loved the print so much…….I need to recount the blocks in “dear ethel” but think I’m still a block short and thought to use these for that…..


5 thoughts on “Making new from hand me downs……

  1. What a great little book! I just became a grandmother yesterday, and I’ve been having so much fun sewing tiny little garments for my sweet little granddaughter! I’ll have to keep in mind the tips you shared here 🙂

    1. Wow, congratulations daisy garden….yeah i really enjoyed making little dresses for Maggie…the best one I made was a dear little corduroy pinafore, it was a floral print and I made a teensy weensy one for a bunny doll I’d made her a months before….almost too cute for words xx

  2. I love the book, so much so that I have ordered one from ebay! Abi and I sometimes buy clothes from charity shops and alter them. Abi has a box of them in the craft room waiting for when she has finished college and has time to upcycle them! She is also doing a make do and mend wedding dress for her textile final so I am hoping the book may have a few tips she can use for that.
    Oooh and party frocks too. I had a long pink one with tiny flowers and velvet ribbon around the hem and cuffs, I loved it. As I grew out of it, it went into the dressing up box along with mum’s old lacey floppy hats and net curtains and we would play Lady Diana’s wedding! Happy memories 🙂 xx

    1. Yay, so glad you liked the sound f the book….there’s a pattern in it for turning your wedding dress into a baby’s christening gown which would be quite interesting if the wedding dress is already made from re-purposed fabrics….your party frock sounds great. I used to want to wear mine all the time xx

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